Alex Quigley

10 things to know about teaching and learning

There is lots to know about the brilliantly complex act of teaching and learning. Here is my list of 10 things to know in the plainest terms possible: 1. Pupils knowing stuff helps them to learn more stuff (background knowledge). 2. It is effective and efficient to explicitly teach pupils the stuff (explicit instruction). 3. …

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Commonly Confused Academic Vocabulary

It is vital for our pupils to possess a wealth of academic vocabulary if they are to succeed in school.  For most of my teaching career, this issue was tacit and flew beneath my radar. Vocabulary issues were often hidden in plain sight. In the last few years, however, developing academic vocabulary has become talked …

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5 strategies for reading complex texts

“Perhaps one of the mistakes in the past efforts to improve reading achievement has been the removal of struggle. As a profession, we may have made reading tasks too easy. We do not suggest that we should plan students’ failure but rather that students should be provided with opportunities to struggle and to learn about …

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The Problem with Reading Informational Texts

Let’s start with a little reading… Is it familiar? The ‘Way of the Dodo’ text lives in infamy as a SATS 2016 reading paper extract that was so difficult that it made some pupils cry.  It is a reading extract that also exposes a key problem in classrooms everywhere: the difficulty for pupils – primary or secondary age – …

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The Curriculum Spiderweb

As curriculum is complex, we routinely seek out a plethora of handy metaphors and analogies to make sense of it. And so, in recent years curriculum has recently been described with a multitude of metaphors, such as a boxset (more Game of Thrones than the Simpsons), a voyage of exploration, or curriculum as narrative.  Each metaphor has explanatory …

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Arguing about English

Everyone has an opinion on the teaching of English, its curriculum, along with our national qualifications. Not just teachers: parents, policy makers, and pupils, all have an argument at the ready.  Of course, most of us have stumbled through an analysis of Shakespeare, or grumbled over the peculiarities of grammar at one time or another, …

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